As the Kings took the ice yesterday morning in El Segundo to start training camp, fans definitely discussed the absence of Drew Doughty. Everyone knew he wouldn’t be there, since his agent and Kings GM Dean Lombardi have yet to come to an agreement, but #8 was certainly talked about a lot yesterday. I realize he’s a great defenseman and definitely a key player, but I think fans should concentrate on those who WERE on the ice and be happy.
Anze Kopitar, Kings leading scorer (in spite of playing 75 of the 82 games), was greeted by enthusiastic applause by the fans watching training camp. Kopi said it was “a little bit tough to be in the skate for about three hours, but other than that it’s all good.” He said he hasn’t had too much pain and that it’s more uncomfortable than anything else and doesn’t seem to think it’ll affect his skating or play at all. This is definitely good news for Kings fans who had to watch him break his ankle just before the playoffs earlier this year, which was certainly a big factor in the team being knocked out in the first round of the playoffs.
Dustin Penner looks better than I can remember him looking – ever. He seemed faster and in better shape, which could be a very good sign for Kings fans. Penner, who trained very hard during the off season reduced his body fat percentage by 4%, but would not tell us what his body fat percent is (or was). When asked about being on the ice with Kopi and Williams, he said they probably only got to play in about 6 games together due to the timing of his arrival and Kopi’s injury, but said that “the chemistry came a lot quicker with those two guys.”
Training camps always bring new faces to a team and this year is no exception for the Kings. Mike Richards, Simone Gage, and Trent Hunter seem to be fitting in well with the Kings. In fact, team captain Dustin Brown found himself having to fit in with Richards and Gagne, who know each other’s style of play well.
The Kings’ first pre-season games are split squad games (home and away) against the Coyotes this Wednesday night. I’m not sure which players will be in Staples Center, but hockey returning to LA is always a good thing for the fans. Since it looks like there won’t be a season for the NBA this year, the Kings should find themselves having more Saturday night games than originally scheduled. Most fans I’ve talked to about this change are happy about it. Traffic for 1pm games is always bad for me both ways, so I’m sure the same is true for many fans traveling to Staples Center. SoCal hockey is back! If you have a chance to get out to the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, all Kings Training Camp practices are open to the public.